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With: David Tennant, Robert Sheehan, Carlito Olivero, Kerry Condon, Jacqueline Byers, Lisa Brenner
Written by: Brandon Boyce
Directed by: Dean Devlin
MPAA Rating: R for violence, language throughout, some drug use and brief nudity
Running Time: 111
Date: 05/04/2018

Bad Samaritan (2018)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Squeeze Burglar

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The idea behind this thriller is not terribly fresh or original, but it works on a good, medium-sized scale thanks to Sheehan's relatable, believable, flawed hero and Tennant's terrifying psychopath.

In Bad Samaritan, Sean Falco (Robert Sheehan) and his pal Derek (Carlito Olivero) run a small-time burglary scheme, posing as valet parkers, and using GPS and garage door openers in the cars to gain access to homes. In the home of one particularly nasty customer, Cale Erendreich (David Tennant), Sean is horrified to discover a girl (Kerry Condon), brutally beaten and locked to a chair. He tries to rescue her, but when Erendreich returns, he panics and leaves.

Tormented by this decision, he makes several attempts to rescue the girl, i.e. calling the police, but no one believes him, and the sadistically clever Erendreich is very good at allaying suspicion. Worse, Erendreich begins tormenting Sean, his girlfriend Riley (Jacqueline Byers), and his family, making fake posts on social media and causing other havoc. When Riley is attacked, Sean realizes he must end this, one way or another.

Director Dean Devlin, the screenwriter of Independence Day and the director of Geostorm, scales back from gargantuan, cosmic destruction and builds a realistic situation with its own history and nuances. The places and relationships in Bad Samaritan feel genuine. Despite his career as a burglar and his panicked hesitation to help a person in jeopardy, he earns our trust back with his feverish attempts to right his wrong, as well as his background as a talented photographer, wary of "selling out."

Tennant revisits his work as the nasty "Kilgrave" on Jessica Jones, bringing a disconcerting level of class, education, and breeding to his vicious Erendreich; he just makes your skin crawl. Written by Brandon Boyce (Apt Pupil, Wicker Park) in the vein of many thrillers of the 1990s, the movie occasionally makes an aggravating mistake: Erendreich is too all-knowing, as if he were able to read minds or see everything at once.

A great villain needs to have flaws, too, and, most times, this one is just too perfect. Perhaps this could have been tightened up if Bad Samaritan hadn't been allowed to go on for 110 minutes, but these quibbles do not dampen the movie's overall tense effect.

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